What if Mitch Kupchak wasn’t one of the best GM’s in the league?
A man that has assembled a championship team, who isn’t satisfied with just one championship, the thrill of victory makes him hungry for more.
Whether it was the devastating loss in the Finals to Boston in 2008, or the last two seasons in which the Lakers have won it all, Mitch Kupchak continues to improve the roster year in and year out.
One may say he is never satisfied, that he always looks forward to the next season.
We all know what he is most famous for, trading away Kwame Brown for All-Star Pau Gasol.
But what about Brian Cook for Trevor Ariza, or Vladimir Radmonivic for Shannon Brown, signing Ron Artest to the MLE, bringing in Steve Blake, or Matt Barnes at the vets minimum.
Or what about not doing anything at all.
When Kobe wanted the Lakers to trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd, he said no.
When Lakers fans were panicking, he didn’t ship out Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom for Jermaine O’Neal.
He did nothing.
May 31, 2007 Kobe Bryant asks to be traded.
Sorry Kobe, you’re staying put!
Which could prove to be, the most successful non-move in NBA history.
The closest deal that almost got done was Kobe Bryant to the Bulls in exchange for Loul Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon, and Joakim Noah.
We’ll never know how close the Lakers actually were to separating with Kobe Bryant, but in this age of the superstars always getting their way. Kupchak pretty much said to Kobe, “You’re going to be a Laker, so deal with it”
These non-moves were just the beginning of this dynasty.
If Kupchak trades Kobe in the summer of 2007, what does the league look like in 2010?
The Lakers wouldn’t be back-to-back champions, Kobe would be up in Chicago with Kirk Hinrich, and Ben Wallace. Pau Gasol may still be in Memphis.
The Celtics might have two more championships; maybe Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets knock off the Orlando Magic in 2009 to win the NBA Championship.
Kobe Bryant would be beaten in the playoffs one year by Orlando, the next by Boston.
The only reason the Super Team was built in Miami was to compete with this edition of the Lakers, so LeBron probably stays in Cleveland.
Phil Jackson retires with 9 rings, always tied to Red Auerbach, never separating himself as the best coach ever.
Kobe never wins a ring again, and goes down in history as Shaq’s sidekick.
You get the idea, Mitch Kupchak, (and Jerry Buss’s) patience, is the reason the Lakers are back to back champions looking for another 3-peat.
Most successful people are patient, putting money in a long term investment, takes patience, doing hard work and paying your dues to conquer your dream takes patience. It seems as if wise people, are almost always patient, as the old quote proves, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”
The other GM’s that have not learned this essential trait need to look specifically at what Mitch Kupchak didn’t do in the summer of 2007.
I’m sure there were some dark nights in his office, in which he said to himself “Am I doing the right thing?”.
He had a little hope, a little faith, and a lot of patience, and he might have been the only man, whether it be a player, fan, or expert that had his head on straight in that summer of 2007.
Lakers fans are glad that “the only man”, with these essential qualities, was in charge.
Because if it wasn’t for that man, they wouldn’t be licking their chops in anticipation for a 3rd straight title.
David Brickley is a staff writer, and host of The Voice of the Nation podcast on TLN. You can view more of his work at davidjbrickley.com